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Dangerous winter driving habits

When the snow starts flying in Michigan, visibility on roads can plummet. However, many motorists can create visibility problems of their own by not properly clearing snow of their vehicles. Snow-covered windshields reduce the vision of a driver. Headlights and tail lights buried under snow can also make a vehicle less visible on the roads. Both of these issues can put drivers at an increased risk for a car accident.

Under Michigan law, drivers must keep both their windshields and back windows clear of snow. Many drivers will opt to clear out just a small area of their windshield to peer out of. This, according to a statute that prohibits drivers from letting objects to obstruct a windshield, is illegal. The rear window must also be cleared of snow unless the vehicle features two rear-view mirrors on both sides. Those special mirrors would give a driver a clear view behind them.

While similar statutes do not require drivers to clear snow off their lights, snow could dim them to the point where they violate state regulations. High beam lights should be spotted from 350 feet away and normal head lights should be seen from 100 feet.

A snow-covered license plate might not put a driver at a heightened risk for a car accident, but it could get the driver pulled over.

On the topic of winter driving, motorists should be conscious of a snow plow's presence on the road. Never should a driver attempt to pass a snow plow on the right. A plow's blade often extends off to the right as it clears snow from the road. Running into the blade could also cause an accident.

The Grand Rapids Press "Traffic Talk: Is it legal to drive with snow-covered windows? What about snow-covered headlights?" Cami Reister, Dec. 5, 2011

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